Second-ranked Duke is an extremely tired but rejuvenated basketball team. Trajan Langdon scored 18 points and the Blue Devils shot 59 percent in the first half as they rolled over mistake-prone Florida State 86-72 Tuesday night before showing fatigue over the final eight minutes.
The Blue Devils (22-2, 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), playing for the third time in six days, took a one-half game lead over No. 1 North Carolina in the ACC regular-season title chase. The Tar Heels play at Virginia on Wednesday night. "This has been a tough stretch and certainly it started out in the worst possible manner for us," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, referring to his team's 24-point loss last Thursday to the top-ranked Tar Heels. "Our kids have really responded well.
"To come out with the energy and enthusiasm that we had was terrific," Krzyzewski added. "I thought it showed a lot of maturity on our part." Roshown McLeod added 15 points for Duke two days after getting a career-high 27 at North Carolina State. Meanwhile, Corey Louis had 16 points to lead Florida State (16-9, 5-7).
Duke's reserves also were key again, outscoring the Seminoles' bench 26-15, while the Blue Devils blocked eight shots and had eight steals. "Our bench really came through. Our younger guys took a hit last week. Some of them came back a little bit against (N.C. State) and today (they) were very good," Krzyzewski said.
The Seminoles, who had averaged 15 turnovers over the last four games, committed 15 in the first half to fall behind by 25 points after the first 20 minutes. It was their 12th loss to Duke in their last 14 meetings. "One of our goals is we wanted to put a lot of pressure on them right from the start and kind of get some turnovers and some easy buckets," Duke point guard Steve Wojciechowski said.
It was a close game for about five minutes before Duke went on a 22-4 run as the Seminoles self-destructed, committing nine turnovers in a 16-possession span. "Our defensive end of the court set up some offense for us. We played a very, very good 20 minutes," Krzyzewski said. Langdon scored six of his 13 first-half points during the 8½-minute run as the Blue Devils led 35-14 with 7:19 left before the break.
The Seminoles went scoreless for 5:15 of Duke's spurt, fumbling away most of their possessions against the Blue Devils' trapping pressure defense. At one point of the first half, Langdon, McLeod and Shane Battier had combined for 33 of Duke's 44 points. Down large at halftime, ACC's worst 3-point shooting team had little chance of a comeback as Duke's lead reached 31 points in the early stages of the second half 17 days after the Seminoles lost at North Carolina by 48.
The Seminoles did close within 14 points on several occasions late. "Our kids didn't give into the game and continued to fight," Florida State coach Steve Robinson said. "We tried to create little bit of a frenzy. We showed some heart to continue to compete in an environment which a lot of times makes people fold up shop and go home early." In two games against Duke this season, Florida State is a combined 2-for-21 from 3-point range.
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